Trying to describe Can's music to the uninitiated is a problematic task at best. Their early releases from the early Seventies are raw and gutsy with a psychedelic propensity. Their middle Seventies releases are searing and incredibly dynamic. Their releases from the late Seventies are slick and refined, exhibiting a playful sensibility. Their live releases are creatures of unpredictable beauty, often blending all of the above aspects in unique ways.
The legacy Can created will never be forgotten. Although they've been disbanded for many decades, their influence marks countless other bands, from Public Image Ltd. to Eurythmics.
Most of Can's releases have been reissued on Spoon Records, but a few gems have seemingly avoided that umbrella, like the one below...
CAN: Can (CD on Marginal Talent)
Reissued on CD in 2004, this classic album from 1978 offers 38 minutes of alternative rock.
For this album, Can comprised: Michael Karoli on guitars and vocals, Irmin Schmidt on keyboards and synthesizers, Jaki Liebezeit on drums, Rosko Gee on bass, and Rebop Kwaku Bah on percussion (the latter two musicians being alumni of Steve Winwood's band Traffic), with original band member Holger Czukay contributing editing unparalleled capabilities.
A sultry smoothness dominates this album, generating a sinuous mien akin to liquid flowing through the air. Even when the band lets loose, their intensity is fluid and seductive.
Karoli's guitar balances crisp chords with an understated blaze. Schmidt's keyboards are slippery and glistening like honey-tinted dew; his electronics growl and hiss with remarkable clarity, spiraling with a visceral ferocity. Liebezeit's drumming is durable and powerful, even when softly describing rhythms. Gee's super-chilled basslines are subterranean with retrained verve. Bah's versatile percussives lend serpentine beats to the already lush tempos. The vocals are soft and wise.
The combination of these elements establish tuneage of astounding charm, whether creating mesmeric tapestries or unbridled doses of dazzling rock.
Their rendition of the old classic tune "Can Can" brings new life to this composition, transposing the bouncy flair of bawdy 18th century French clubs into the modern world with amusing overtones. Just as their rendition of "Ping Pong" transforms the ricocheting patterns of a ping pong ball into an entrancing melody.
But it is the riveting glamour of "Safe" and "Aspectacle" that will instantly convert new listeners into avid fanatics for this band's sound. Can's relentless dedication to experimentation is timeless, and still as fresh today as it was in its heyday.
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